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A few truths were realized over the weekend at the box office. Weeks removed from the Colorado shooting, The Dark Knight Rises is still the greatest attraction in theaters. The release of Total Recall once again proves that Colin Farrell is not a movie star, let alone a credible action hero. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days shows that if you want to get ahead in Hollywood sometimes you have to sell yourself cheap. And Ted‘s sixth week in the top 10 is proof that both guys and gals like a little cuddle action.
Yes, it is true – The Dark Knight Rises retained its number one spot for the third straight weekend with $36.4 million, bringing its domestic tally to over $350 million. Worldwide it has accumulated more than $730 million. Holy box office profits, Batman! While it may not reach the zeitgeist heights of its predecessor, The Dark Knight, Rises should finish as the second biggest film of the year (behind Marvel’s The Avengers and its $600 million-plus domestic tally). But the bigger story is that we will have three films that have grossed over $400 million (The Hunger Games being the third film) in a calendar year.
Despite Rises‘s critical and commercial acclaim, one can’t help but wonder how it would have done profit-wise with a better adversary. In terms of action films, a hero is only as good as its villain. That’s one of the reasons why Die Hard has had the lasting impact. Nearly 25 years after its release, people know Bruce Willis as John McClane. But you also have Alan Rickman’s film debut as Hans Gruber, the ring leader of a professional bunch of thieves. His performance is every bit as good as Willis’ McClane, and the film is that much better because of it. The final entry of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy has a violent menace in Bane, a mercenary who has come to Gotham City to be its reckoning. Face it, he’s no Joker – easily one of the most recognizable villains in comic-book history. And while I still contend that Nolan had bigger plans for the Joker in the eventual sequel, Heath Ledger’s untimely death prevented the plan from being realized. What audiences were left with a final entry that did its job at completing the origin of the Caped Crusader but did so in the wake of The Dark Knight, a film that will see its lasting impact in the coming the decades as it is discussed in various classes of higher learning, be it film theory or otherwise.
So apparently someone got the bright idea to green light a remake of Total Recall, resurrecting a product that had been dormant for twenty-two years, and give it a $200 million production budget. The original from director Paul Verhoeven and starring Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger was an action sci-fi hit that embraced its absurdness with over-the-top action and gore, with foreign locations (Mars) and mutants. The remake sees Colin Farrell replace the Austrian strongman. Right there was the first mistake, thinking Farrell as a capable action hero. The same thing happened with Terminator Salvation with both Sam Worthington and Christian Bale. And I need I remind anyone of Jason Momoa as the failed Conan in the Conan the Barbarian remake. It’s near impossible to restart a Schwarzenegger property – the guy just had such a presence on the big screen. It would be like trying to have Justin Bieber sing Elvis covers. Maybe if the production was scaled back to the $50 to $60 million range with Jason Statham in place of Farrell, then maybe its $26 million opening weekend would be met with some fanfare.
I don’t mean to dog Farrell, but he was being built as the hot newcomer that wold be the next-big leading man. Only his career hit a stall with both Alexander and Miami Vice, two pricey endeavors that failed to be blockbusters. But then he did In Bruges, a dark comedy that played to his strengths as an actor. He was rewarded with a Golden Globe and would continue to focus his efforts on smaller features, like doing a supporting turn in the Oscar-winning Crazy Heart, playing a fisherman who falls in love with a mermaid in Ondine and being the butt of jokes with a bad comb-over in Horrible Bosses. Last summer’s Fright Night was neither embraced by fans of the ’80s classic nor brought in the Twilight crowd. Dismal returns doesn’t exactly say ringing endorsement for a new Total Recall and its performance over the weekend proves that.
Another year, another Diary of a Wimpy Kid release. Why should Paranormal Activity be the only franchise to have a new film drop every year, am I right? For three consecutive years it’s be three consecutive hits for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Keeping the budgets low has led to 20th Century Fox reaping the benefits. A three-day opening of $14.7 million may sound like a disappointment, until you realize that the family film only cost $22 million. The opening is still soft, as the previous two releases opened above $20 million. They also opened during Spring Break as opposed to the “dog days” of summer. Considering the film is set during summer break, the timing of its release couldn’t have been better. The family release should do better on the weekdays with an influx of kids going to see it during the daytime.
Ice Age: Continental Drift looks to be melting as it has but a few weeks remaining in the top 10. Much like the previous entry (Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs), the international numbers is the key figure in determining its success. Once again the domestic number should be the lowest in the series, but overseas the family release has already made an estimated $584 million. 20th Century Fox actually took places three through five in the top 10, with Diary, Ice Age and Ben Stiller-Vince Vaughn comedy The Watch, the last of which was pretty much DOA upon its arrival. Not because of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida by a neighborhood watchman, but because it was a bad comedy period. Up there with Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy and Broken Lizard’s The Babymakers.
Ted‘s performance over the weekend was enough to push it past the $200 million mark, making it the eighth film to do so this year. As it continues to open in new territories overseas (where it has already made $77 million), the restricted comedy has a shot at surpassing $400 million globally. There’s already talks of writer/director Seth MacFarlane making a sequel involving dolls (fingers crossed that Ted has a run-in with a certain Good Guy doll named Chucky), but MacFarlane could pretty much make anything he wanted to at this point and studios would be interested. Hopefully, MacFarlane can keep the success going and not become like Sacha Baron Cohen who, after the success of Borat, saw his films Bruno and The Dictator be less receptive by the viewing public.
Step Up: Revolution took a sizable drop in the top ten. The franchise continues to see its returns drop with each successive release. Even the addition of 3-D, starting with the third Step Up movie has failed to ignite the franchise. This is the first Step Up from Summit Entertainment after they picked up the series that was abandoned by Disney. Internationally, the franchise is known in several regions as Sexy Dance, which is the movie in a nutshell. It will be interesting to see where the Step Up movies go next. Maybe the dancers can get their asses to Mars, unlike the Total Recall remake.
The Amazing Spider-Man is nearing the end of his web-slinging ways in theaters. Finally making it past $250 million domestically, $96 million behind Spider-Man 3, which was then the least received of the Spider-Man films in the U.S. in terms of gross, Sony is already thinking ahead by recruiting blockbuster scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to take over writing duties for the sequel. But which pair will be writing? Will it be the pair that wrote Star Trek, or the pair that gave us Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Cowboys & Aliens? It’s also unknown if Marc Webb will be back in the director’s chair. My suspicions think that he will be gone and another director-for-hire will come on board. What’s Brett Ratner doing these days? I kid, I kid.
Brave and Magic Mike round out the top ten. Both films managed to withstand some strong competition to remain the topic of top ten conversation for seven and six weeks respectively. Magic did just enough to fend off Moonrise Kingdom (on the fall) and Beasts of the Southern Wild (on the rise), whose weekend tally was $1.2 million at 318 locations.
On the arthouse front, Sony Pictures Classics’ Celeste and Jesse Forever registered one of the strongest per-screen averages of the year amongst indies, with $112k on only four screens. Fox Searchlight’s Ruby Sparks expanded from thirteen to 64 theaters, with a $400k total. Killer Joe continues to do killer business in its second week of release, with $163k on fourteen screens. Documentaries worth your time now in theaters include Searching for Sugar Man and The Imposter. Both are playing on just seven screens but are averaging over $4,700 per-screen at each location. If you live in an area that is playing either of these docs, do check them out. Do your part and support small films.
Tags: box office, Brave, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Killer Joe, Magic Mike, Ruby Sparks, searching for sugar man, Step Up: Revolution, Ted, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, The Watch, Total Recall, weekend box office
Source: Box Office Mojo